ESPN is providing sports fans in the US with some actual live baseball in the form of the KBO League. The South Korean baseball season kicked off early Tuesday morning on American television with a matchup between the NC Dinos and Samsung Lions. At long last, baseball fans stateside have something to watch while awaiting the delayed start of the 2020 MLB season.
Specifically, New York Yankees fans who are stuck inside may want to pay special attention to a certain KBO player. If you’re missing the sight of Aaron Judge socking dingers in the Bronx, Jae-hwan Kim is one name Bronx Bombers fans need to know.
— Stephen Nelson (@StephenNelson) May 5, 2020
Kim, the 2018 KBO MVP, had a slow start to his career before hitting 37 home runs in 2016. He followed that up with 35 in 2017 and 44 in 2018. For comparison, Judge had 52 home runs in 2017, followed by 27 in each of the following two seasons.
Kim Jae-hwan hit his 1st HR of 2020 off of Cha Woo-chan. Distance 410 ft. https://t.co/uOy1cZnTiU
— KBO Collections (@kbocollections) May 5, 2020
Kim was posted for MLB teams this offseason, but did not receive enough interest to get an offer. The 31-year-old also has 140 career doubles and drove in at least 115 runs every year from 2016-2018. That actually beats out Judge, whose best mark was 114 RBI back in 2017.
One other overseas player who could draw comparisons to Judge is Yu-Hsien Chu, who plays in the CPBL in Taiwan.
The Dimple Cannon struck again! Rakuten Monkeys’ 朱育賢 (Chu Yu-Hsien) went deep last night with a 2-run shot. Chu is now slashing .548/.588/1.323 and has hit 8 home runs in 8 games. #CPBL ? pic.twitter.com/qJpsaDhiey
— CPBL STATS (@GOCPBL) April 25, 2020
Hitting well over .500 and boasting eight home runs in eight games to start the year, Chu ought to remind Yankees fans of the way Judge effortlessly launches home runs into the stands at a rapid rate.
Baseball is still being played in certain parts of the world, people! With that in mind, Yankees fans can stay up late — or wake up early — and take in some sluggers doing their best Judge impersonations in Korea and Taiwan. And that’s a beautiful thing.